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  • Budgeting Suggestions for Co-Op’s Considering Drones (sUAS)


    As the 2018 budgeting season begins, Co-op’s interested in utilizing drones ponder; what does it actually take to implement an aerial maintenance program? Here are (5) quick facts to consider about an ‘in-house’ approach or ‘sub-contracted’ solution drafted from our frequently asked questions.

    • FAA Part 107 (license to fly) is a ‘per person’ certification – thus, each employee needs a license to be able to use a drone. Also, once obtained…it is ‘their’ license, not the Co-Op’s. Same concept as a vehicle driver’s license.
    • Depending on what you want to obtain within your maintenance program, yields the sUAS that will be the most effective. There is not a ‘one size fit’s all’ drone….without compromising effectiveness compared to other models. You may need multiple types of unmanned aircraft.
    • Budget vs Goal. $25,000 - $50,000 is not an unreasonable expectation for unmanned equipment costs (per pilot); not including personnel operation hours. Get a budget to subcontract your plan and compare.
    • Legal & Risk. The FAA Part 107 is a federal license to operation in the US National Airspace system. With this, comes federal requirements & risk. There is not a ‘state’ entity you are operating under…it’s all federal jurisdiction. We suggested dedicated personnel if doing in-house as consequences in your industry are very costly to operation.
    • If going the sub-contracted solution, compare ‘deliverables’ and not ‘drones.’ It shouldn’t really matter what sUAS the drone company uses as long as they provide a deliverable that meets your needs. Once deliverables are apples to apples, then you compare prices. This assumes safety and other factors are equal. Know your contractors business model; what is their niche?


    Common Solutions via Drone for Co-Op’s

    • Pole, Line, & Substation Inspections
    • Solar & Wind Asset Inspections
    • Aerial Thermography
    • GIS Recording
    • Base Maps & Photogrammetry
    • Pre & Post Construction Documentation
    • Emergency & Rapid Response Assessments


    There is a lot to consider in implementing a sUAS program, many hidden costs and unexpected hurdles. Since UAV Recon specializes in helping REA’s & Co-op’s…let us work with you. We have partners around the US which make a partnership super easy.

    UAV Recon will be covering this process for those attending NREA’s Engineering Seminar in November 2017. Those attending will get sample budgets and discussions about how other Co-Op’s have successfully implemented drones into their workflows. See our events page for more information.